Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that a "planned regrouping of troops" was underway around Kyiv and Chernihiv, one day after Russian negotiators said Moscow's forces would take steps toward de-escalation around the two cities.
"At the first stage of the special military operation carried out by the Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Donbas and Ukraine, it was planned to force the enemy to concentrate his forces, means, resources and military equipment to hold large settlements in these areas, including Kyiv," Konashenkov said in a statement. "To tie them up on the battlefield and without storming these cities, in order to avoid losses among the civilian population, inflict such a defeat on the armed formations of the Kyiv regime that would not allow it to use these forces in the main direction of operations of our armed forces - in the Donbas. All of these goals have been met."
Ukrainian officials have reported Russian shelling over the past 24 hours around both cities. US officials have been skeptical of Russia's claims of de-escalation, and some observers have suggested Russia's shifting military objectives are meant to conceal setbacks on the battlefield.
Konashenkov claimed that the "main tasks of the Russian armed forces in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions have been completed," adding Russian forces were regrouping in order to "intensify operations in priority areas and, above all, to complete the operation for the complete liberation of Donbas," in Ukraine's east.